Set in the south of France, The Hundred-Foot Journey tells the story of what happens when an Indian restaurant opens next to a respected eatery run by a celebrated chef. We sat down with Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon to find out what’s cooking.
Helen Mirren plays the famous, yet snobby, chef named Madame Mallory in The Hundred-Foot Journey, where not only does her character have to rethink everything she knows about cooking, but she also plays matchmaker to two young cooks. In real life, however, the grand dame of the British stage and screen admits she doesn’t cook much.
“I’m a savage when it comes to food, really. I work a lot so when I go home, I’m literally eating baked beans out of the can. I can’t even put it onto a plate. It’s awful. I’m an absolute pig.
The Queen actress does, however, make a kick-a** roast chicken on her Showtime Rotisserie grill with built-in timer. “You put the chicken on it and you just let it go. An hour and 20 minutes later, you have the juiciest chicken!”
Mirren admits that the fabulous-looking omelet she made in the film didn’t taste as appetizing as it looked. While they did a lot of takes, she said, “An omelet’s comparatively easy to eat. Better than a burger or something.”
Though she didn’t really learn to cook for the film, she did ace cracking the eggs with one hand.
“My one little culinary gift was to be able to do that. But then the chef came up to me and said, ‘We never crack eggs [that way].’ They always tap the two eggs together, for some reason, I don’t know why, and then carefully break open the one and then take the next one and tap it. I thought it looked so much better one-handed, I thought, ‘Hell, I’ll just do it the way I do it.'”
French actress Charlotte Le Bon plays Marguerite, an up-and-coming chef trying to learn everything she can from Madame Mallory. We asked Le Bon about her own inner chef and love for cooking.
“I really love food and I really enjoy eating, but I’m a lazy cooker. I couldn’t put those entire meals together for a person; I’m too lazy for that.”
We asked her if the filmmakers gave the actors any formal culinary training. “At first, the production wanted us to do a lot of cooking lessons, like knowing how to cut a fish. Lasse [Hallström] was like, ‘Stop doing this! You’re wasting your time.'” Le Bon happily quit studying, saying, “What was more important to me was to see how a chef acts in their kitchen, their body language, because they’re always busy, there’s always something to do.”
While Le Bon gave the appearance that she was super confident in the kitchen, she admitted she didn’t really know what she was doing. “There’s a lot of hand doubles. It’s not us.”
Le Bon agreed with Mirren in that the food definitely didn’t taste as good as it looked on film. “There’s a scene where I’m tasting all those different kinds of sauces. I was eating cold sauces that were supposed to be hot and it was obviously disgusting. But that’s what acting is about.”
Manish Dayal, who plays Hassan in the movie, said he had no professional cooking experience. “I didn’t know anything about being in a kitchen,” he said.
And the weirdest thing he ate? “Frog’s legs. Helen Mirren ordered some one day. They kind of taste like chicken,” he revealed
Watch our video to find out more about making this culinary rom-com.
The Hundred-Foot Journey opens in theaters Aug. 8.